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General Mills addresses concerns over Annie's standards

Annie's consumers are petitioning General Mills to pledge to uphold Annie’s Homegrown organic standards, as part of an online campaign.

Earlier this month, General Mills announced that it would acquire Annie’s, whose kid-focused, natural and organic pasta, snacks, meal kits, dressing, condiments and frozen foods will join the General Mills’ U.S. natural and organic product portfolio, whose net sales totaled about $330 million in its latest fiscal year.

Despite a promise from the company, the petition's authors fear that General Mills will incorporate genetically modified ingredients into Annie's products. 

"Annie's is on the record as supporting GMO labeling and General Mills is not, so there is kind of a conflict in ethics when it comes to GMOs," noted Julie Mastrine, spokeswoman for Care 2, the company that hosts the site on which the petition was created. Mastrine referred to General Mills' support of the opposition campaign to California's Proposition 37, which would have mandated GMO labeling.

But General Mills spokeswoman Bridget Christenson emphasized to SN: "We've been very clear; Annie's products would not change under General Mills. We are committed to maintaining the same great tasting products Annie's consumers love and trust, and to honoring the integrity of Annie's — including Annie's certified organic products and their made with organic products."

Still, the petition's authors are seeking a formal, written pledge, Mastrine said. 

Earlier this year, General Mills removed genetically modified ingredients from its iconic Cheerios brand, after Green America, a social and environmental organization pushed for the change.

At the time, Tome Forsythe, VP of global communications for General Mills, wrote in a blog: 

"The simple and unique nature of Cheerios made it possible — and we think consumers may embrace it. For our other cereals, the widespread use of GM seed in crops such as corn, soy or beet sugar would make reliably moving to non-GM ingredients difficult, if not impossible."

Reformulation challenges and other factors may have contributed to close to 98% of General Mills' shareholders rejecting a proposal to rid all General Mills products of GMOs last week, according to a report

"We've studied all the research that's been done around the world, we are very aware of the numerous regulators globally who have studied GMOs and who have said they are safe," said General Mills CEO Kendall Powell. "And of course we know and believe GMOs are very safe."

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